Twitter Joins NewFronts as Yahoo Exits New York Ad-Pitch Series

Twitter has grabbed a prime position in the 2017 Digital Content NewFronts lineup — taking over the slot from Yahoo, which is canceling its presentation at the annual digital-video advertising pitchfest in New York City.

Twitter’s first-ever NewFronts presentation will be May 1, the opening day of the two-week series. Building on its push into video over the past year, the social-media company will showcase new original content and live programming for brand and agency execs. A Twitter rep said it hasn’t yet selected a venue for the presentation.

Yahoo, one of the founding members of the NewFronts, had previously been scheduled to present on May 1, from 6-9 p.m. Instead, the company will launch a series of “localized events across the country” to pitch marketers on Yahoo’s video ad offerings, according to chief revenue officer Lisa Utzschneider.

Twitter is hoping its NewFronts presence bolsters the perception on Madison Avenue that it’s committed to video for the long haul. In the fourth quarter of 2016, Twitter streamed more than 600 hours of live premium video across roughly 400 events, attracting 31 million unique viewers. In addition to its global reach, Twitter is touting its ability to reach younger audiences: It says about 50% of its live-video viewers were under the age of 25.

“We have made major investments in video over the past few years, and being able to present the breadth, depth and quality of that content at the NewFronts is the ultimate culmination of those efforts,” Matthew Derella, Twitter VP of global revenue and operations, said in a statement.

The company in the last 12 months has cut pacts with several sports leagues and media companies for live programming, including the NFL, Major League Baseball, Bloomberg, BuzzFeed News and PBS NewsHour, and has partnered on live entertainment events such as the Golden Globes red carpet and a Q&A with the “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” cast.

And on Thursday, Twitter announced an exclusive deal with Turner Sports to carry “NCAA March Madness Now,” a 30-minute preview show for the college men’s basketball tournament that premieres March 16 at 11:30 a.m. ET, with additional episodes set for March 17, April 1 and April 3. The show will be available at marchmadness.twitter.com and @marchmadness.

Yahoo, meanwhile, didn’t say which cities it would visit on its advertising tour or when the events would run, but a rep said it would span major markets over several weeks. “We’re looking forward to sharing updates personalized for each advertiser’s objectives in a series of local events — because when it comes to video, it’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution,” Utzschneider wrote in a blog post announcing the shift.

Its exit from the NewFronts come after a scaled-down presentation last year, when Yahoo held a private event in NYC that it said would provide “less flash and more substance.”

And Yahoo is bowing out of the official NewFronts in New York as Verizon’s takeover of the internet company is slated to close sometime in the second quarter. The telco is paying around $4.48 billion for Yahoo, after chopping $350 million from the price tag because of two massive security breaches Yahoo disclosed after the original deal was negotiated.

At this year’s NewFronts, which run May 1-12, a total of 33 companies and organizations are scheduled to host presentations. Those include Hulu, YouTube, BuzzFeed, AOL, AwesomenessTV, Defy Media, Disney Media-Maker Studios, Fullscreen Media, the New York Times, Time Inc., Turner, Vice Media and Warner Bros.

The NewFronts were founded in 2012 by AOL, DigitasLBi, Google/YouTube, Hulu, Microsoft and Yahoo as a digital-video version of the annual TV upfronts season.

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